I had promised insanity, blood, and pygmy hippos on this blog. But let me begin with a taxi driver named Fariba.
Since my ultimate destination of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was only 3 hours away, I had the whole day to explore Chicago before setting out for the last leg of my journey. So I got online to look at my tourist options. I could go to Lincoln Park Zoo where there was no parking, leave the car in an alley, and walk while gangs set fire to the Subaru. Or I could visit the historic Lake Forest area. I wanted to do that, but I knew that Google Maps would take me through every toll booth within a 100 mile radius before getting me lost in Ohio. Since I didn’t have $82.oo in spare change for tolls, I kept looking. Then I found the Brookfield Zoo.
I asked Francheska, the helpful young woman at Reception, how to get to the Brookfield. She said, “Take the train.”
That’s the problem with living in a small town of 80,000. All we have is a bus that takes handicapped people to Wal-mart. I wasn’t thinking big enough.
So, needing a ride to the train station, I called a taxi service. Fariba answered. He has an accent. I am deaf on the phone. This was our conversation:
“Hello. I’m at the Quality Inn in Aurora, and would like to take a taxi to the train station. Can you give me an idea of how much that could cost?”
“NO. SIX. TO. SEVEN. DOLLARS. . . Jckkslzzcypppp!”
“Please say that again.”
“What is the matter? Can you not hear? Ffszchyckkz! I’m having a coffee first. YOU have a coffee. I’ll see you after 10. . . Gzzrrppblfsttkljzzzzz . . .”
After our coffee break Fariba showed up and drove me to the train station. And after the phone debacle, I had to pretend that I knew what I was doing when he dropped me off. I headed toward the nearest building like I knew what it was. It could have been someone’s house, a public bathroom, or a police station. Thank goodness it was the ticket counter. I bought my round trip tickets, then sat on a bench to wait.
Fun fact for country bumpkins: Chicago passenger trains are two stories high.
Another fun fact: Crazy people ride them.
At first I thought he was talking into his hand. After 20 minutes I realized that he had a cell phone buried in his hair (You can’t see the three foot braid), and I could only hope that someone was on the other end of the line. Especially after we ended up being the only two people on the train car by the time I got off.
So back to the Brookfield. Here is the Pygmy Hippo I promised:
I also promised blood. That happened when I was walking the several blocks from the zoo back to the train stop.
I take after my mother. We do random pratfalls for no reason. Sometimes even when we’re just standing still. This time, though, I was walking from the zoo to the train stop and stubbed my toe on a crack in the sidewalk. I went down, arched my back so I wouldn’t shove my nose into my brain, and landed heavily on my hands. By the time I’d climbed to my feet, my hands were dripping blood. Not enough to warrant a fire truck. Just enough to make a young man at the train stop hide behind a pillar when I spoke to him.
I didn’t have tissues with me, so I couldn’t clean the blood off. And I didn’t want to touch anything in case there was flesh-eating staph lurking on a nearby brick, so I stood with my hands out at my sides like I was drying nail polish. My posture, the dripping blood, and the fact that I had sweated heartily while walking around the zoo, all made me look as if I had just slaughtered a family of five while they slept. I cleared a path by my mere presence and was the first to board.
Needless to say, I sported eye-catching scabs at my book signing. Also, needless to say, I bandaged up before handling the books. I knew it wasn’t hygienic to dot my I’s with DNA.
The next blog – BOOK SIGNING – PART 3 – will be about friends, Sheboygan, and the actual book signing.
Stay tuned . . .
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